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Antigua borrows to improve public sector

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2013  The World Bank Board of Directors approved a US$10 million loan to Antigua and Barbuda to support the Governments efforts to improve public sector efficiency, strengthen capacity and institutions, and deliver better services to its citizens and residents. 

The Public and Social Sector Transformation Project seeks to:”Strengthen Antigua and Barbudas capacity to manage public policies and public services.

“Improve the efficiency of social protection spending through an integrated monitoring and targeting system.
“Improve the income and employability of the vulnerable population through temporary employment and training programs. “This project complements the United Progressive Party Administration’s existing development programs. It builds on our successes in achieving better fiscal-and-debt management, improving Antigua and Barbuda’s relationship with our development partners, and creating the platform for economic growth. The project is bold, wide-ranging, empowering and timely given the positive turnaround in our economy,” said Harold Lovell, Minister of Finance, the Economy and Public Administration of Antigua and Barbuda.

Antigua and Barbuda experienced its worst recession in decades in 2009-11 as tourism revenues collapsed following the global financial crisis. The economy started to recover in 2012, but economic activity remains below potential.

To address these challenges, the Government embarked on a National Economic and Social Transformation Plan (NEST), of which public and social sector reforms are key components. A critical objective of NEST is to address the budget pressures of such a large public service (9.4 percent of the total population) and improve public sector efficiency.

“We are very happy to support this project – the first World Bank investment operation ever in the country  which represents a milestone in our good relations with Antigua and Barbuda. This is a country which has showed impressive progress in implementing structural reforms and we are confident that this project will contribute to assist the Government in its objective to resume sustainable growth,” said Françoise Clottes, World Bank Director for the Caribbean.

Specifically, the project will:

“Modernize human resource management. This involves creating an integrated public service underpinned by modern public sector legislation, effective public service management system, comprehensive and effective human resource procedures that support enhanced performance, and optimized staffing across the government.

“Strengthen strategic planning and policy coordination. The objective is to enhance Government’s capacity to improve the quality of decision-making throughcoordinated planning, and ensure better alignment of resources with government policy priorities.

“Improve the efficiency of social safety net programs. This focuses on enhancing Governments capacity to design, implement and monitor coherent social policies and interventions that bring maximum benefits to citizens and residents.

” Increase employability of the vulnerable population. The primary objective is to improve the effectiveness of the existing employment services in order to increase the employability of the low-income unemployed population between the ages of 18 to 50 years.

The US$10 million fixed-spread loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has a final maturity of 30 years, with a five-year grace period.